[ Chapter 1.1 is here. ]
Max and Grace missed their shots at the bare-footed man. Missing just didn’t make sense to them. They were all good shots.
“WTF!” texted Max and Grace!
“Tough audience!” observed the bare-footed man and laughed.
Zach and Eree lifted the barrels of their shotguns. At the same time, the bare-footed man lifted John off his feet and heaved John toward Eree.
The bare-footed man threw the bloody tanto at Daniel’s feet and pushed the barrel of Zach’s shotgun to the side as it went off. Daniel yelled out as the hot salt shot hit his hand as he reached for the tanto.
Motorcycles were getting around the burning wreckage. Lumi, Max and Grace gave cover fire.
“Let’s chat again. Soon!”
The bare-footed man turned and ran through the burning wreckage.
“Move! Move! Move!” shouted Daniel and the four ran to the pick-ups.
The pick-ups were moving.
“I blew it,” John said.
“We blew it,” Daniel corrected him.
“No, no. It wasn’t mean to be. Some things are like that. They cannot be written by man for they have been written in heaven,” replied Eree from the third pick-up.
“What’s up with that bare-footed man skipping barefoot like a faun?” asked Zach in the second pick-up.
“What the hell are you talking about?” asked Alina from the bus.
“We’re reading a novel,” Alina added.
“Reading a novel” was their code for changing more than one flat tire.
“Get off the can. You got about five minutes before us and hell come up your ass,” barked Zach.
36 motorcyles were on the heels of the pick-ups but out of range for the shotguns. Max, Grace and Lumi took a dozen down with the AK47s but ammunition was running too low to spend it in a single day. Worse, the top speed of the armored pick-ups was 31 mph.
24 motorcycles roared from behind. They were anxious to make some kills. As were the men and women crowded on the truck beds.
“Miss me?” asked Cristina in the F350.
“Da. Nice Holiday?” John replied.
“Oh- the seaside is wonderful,” she answered.
A fog horn blasted from behind. Like an angel of God blowing the horns of war.
Motorcycles scattered in all directions.
The F350 knocked down three bikes as it snaked its way to the pick ups. The four man bed crew took down another three with shotgun fire. But the riders were firing back. Two of bed crew fell.
Up ahead, the bus crew had just finished changing two flat tires. The bus and trucks started to roll out.
The bare-footed man rode up along side the F350. Cristina felt a chill.
This is going to hurt just a little bit. For the rest of your short life…
The bare-footed man smiled at Cristina, said something she couldn’t hear, and held up something bloody in his hand.
A 10 year old boy riding rear-saddle to the bare-footed man auto-fired into the driver’s door with an AK47. The kick was so hard that the boy dropped the gun and fell off the bike. Cristina and Dana were hit, but Cristina kept on driving.
The motorcycles slowed to a stop.
The caravan arrived at Universitate Square and turned left on Regina Elisabeta Boulevard. Except for the F350. It had stopped, but the caravan didn’t notice as it was bringing up the rear. Dana had died instantly. The two survivors of the bed crew carried Dana and Cristina to the bed. One stayed with them and the other drove the F350.
“I love you,” Cristina said.
“Ditto,” John replied.
“I love you forever…” she whispered.
“And always,” he answered. “We’re almost home, my love.”
But there was no answer.
Over the super-wi-fi channel, they all heard the last few lines of the song that the bare-footed man had sung:
Time, Time, Time is on my side, yes it is…
Time, Time, Time is on my side, yes it is…
The caravan stopped at a wall of tires that stretched across Regina Elisabeta and the sidewalks from building to building. The bed crews disembarked.
They quickly made a defensive formation at the back of the caravan.
“John, come quick!”
Cristina was barely breathing. She was covered in blood. She couldn’t speak.
“Don’t go,” John whispered in her ear. “Stay with me. Please…”
Dr. Nakamura was ripping apart Cristina’s blood drenched clothing looking for wounds. Next to the F350, Zach, Daniel and Eree were praying out loud. On their knees.
At the front of the caravan, a voice called out from behind the wall of tires to the men standing outside the bus.
“What is your business?”
“We’re brought some of your neighbors home. We don’t want them anymore. They eat too much!” Aurel shouted with laughter.
Aurel unleashed Hachi. Hachi barked and ran through a gap in the wall.
“It’s Mister Hacheee…”
“Open the gates!”
An old Dacia Berliner started up and a section of the wall opened slowly.
Back on the bed of the F350, John helped Dr. Nakamura turn Cristina over on her side.
One bullet had passed near her spine and out her stomach. No organs were ruptured. A second bullet had shattered her left knee cap. A third bullet shattered her right ankle. Cristina had lost a lot of blood.
Looking down, Dana’s face was unrecognizable to John. He closed her eyes and blessed her.
Dr. Nakamura was working on stopping the bleeding and bandaging Cristina.
John held Cristina’s hand and spoke in her ear.
On the green hill overlooking the Cacica church, there’s a house of stone. It’s our house. It’s four stories high. The walls are made of stone and brick like the walls of a fortressed monastery in the south. It’s almost like a medieval tower out of a fairy tale. But this house is real. It’s our house.
Each level is a separate apartment. There’s two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and bedrooms. Our parents live on the second and third levels. Our apartment is on the fourth. On the roof is an enclosed atrium with an indoor pond and trees like miniature lemons and oranges. We even have a dozen dandelions up there. And roses. They are so fragrant.
I just don’t know how the dandelions got up there…
“Is it a vision?” She whispered.
John closed his eyes and unbid tears steamed down his face. “Yes. It’s a vision,” he answered softly.
“It’s about time you had a nice vision,” she replied weakly.
There’s three terraced gardens in the back of the house.
On the first terrace is a koi pond. It must hold something like 3000 liters of water. There’s twelve Japanese carp in it. Three of them are almost a meter long. The carp are so friendly that they eat pieces of chicken from our hands.
They all have names. One is shiny silver all over. His name is Dogen. Dogen loves to get our attention. There’s a white one with speckles of red and black and a big red dot on her head. Her name is Sakura. She swims so gracefully. And there’s one that’s black. His name is Kobodaishi. He’s going to be a dragon in 1000 years. In the meantime, he’s a little grumpy.
There’s a waterfall too. The carp play in the waterfall on occasion – splashing and jumping. The children love when they do that.
In the spring, elder flowers, acacia and cherry plum blossoms sweeten the air. You can smell them from the bedroom when the windows are open. In the summer, it smells of magnolias, Bulgarian roses and lavender.
Can you smell it?
Cristina nodded slightly.
An ortolan is singing from the branches of a flowering magnolia. What a sweet song it sings.
Kids are chasing butterflies in the second terraced garden. Apollos, Brimstones and Humming Bird Moths come to drink the sugar water we put in the butterfly feeders.
Apollo wings are white and partially transparent with black and red spots. The children think they are fairies. Really! They told me so much. Because when you glimpse them at a flower, sometimes you only see a red spot and the sparkle of a wing. It’s like magic.
Brimstone wings are the brightest yellows. It’s like they got sunshine and smiles in their wings. You have to smile every time you see one. You just can’t not smile at Brimstone.
The kids. Our kids. They are laughing, giggling and squealing as they chase the butterflies.
We’re drinking homemade, elder flower soda in tall glasses filled with ice. We’re sitting on a balcony off our bedroom watching the kids. Watching the world.
In the distance, we hear a busy woodpecker.
Zach and his wife have come around the back and they are waving to us to come down. They’ve brought a basket of strawberries and a bottle of red country wine.
We meet them on the first terraced garden. We’ve brought the wine glasses, cheese and walnuts. There’s a table there near the pond. It’s an old grind stone set on a small boulder. The benches are made from small logs. But don’t worry. You won’t get your dress dirty. The benches are covered with carpets decorated with flowers and birds.
There’s a well there too. The old fashioned kind. I let the bucket fall and it splashes below. Hand over hand, I turn the wheel to raise the bucket. The water is cold and sweet.
Down the hill, Hachi is chasing a mad chicken through the grass and wild flowers. Our neighbor won’t be so happy about that if the chicken doesn’t lay an egg tomorrow. The chicken stops and tries to peck at Hachi but he jumps and avoids the peck. I guess Hachi did learn a few things from the Peacocks in Cismigiu Park.
Hachi pounces again and his paws hit the grass near enough to the chicken to make her spread her wings and run like hell.
After a few meters, Hachi stops and stands on his hind legs to see what’s going on at the church. There’s a wedding. Cars are honking and dragging ribbons of cans. From behind, Hachi looks like a little kid in a white, furry Halloween costume. That’s what Zach says.
Tears in his eyes, Zach took his glasses off. The other ten took their glasses off too. The transmission stopped.
Dr. Nakamura finished bandaging Cristina’s wounds and set up an intravenous line from a bag of blood plasma.
Sitting next to John to rest, she happened to noticed John’s hair was wet with blood. She pushed his hair aside and it was obvious that his left ear had been cut off. John was unconscious.
Time is on my side, The Rolling Stones
The next chapter section (1.4) is [here]. Enjoy it!
Your feedback (comment) means much to me.
20 April 2011
Copyright 2011 by Stan Faryna. All Rights Reserved.